These Three Mayors of Metro Manila Have Joined Forces to Protect Masungi Georeserve
In a rare move, three of Metro Manila’s mayors have urged the government to protect Masungi Georeserve, a precious watershed adjacent to the National Capital Region.
Mayors Marcy Teodoro, Vico Sotto and Jaime Fresnedi of the cities of Marikina, Pasig and Muntinlupa urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cancel the mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) affecting Masungi.
The three mayors slammed the agreements, saying “these destructive activities are anathema to the protected area meant to be preserved from exploitation.”
“We are deeply concerned that the DENR is reportedly not acting upon the cancellation of the MPSAs,” they said.
“We likewise appeal to the relevant quarry companies to reconsider the social and environmental impacts of their plans, and voluntarily rescind their MPSAs within the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape and Masungi Geopark Project,” they added.
Masungi: From Barren Wasteland to Wildlife Sanctuary
Masungi Georeserve is an award-winning geotourism site that began as a simple public-private reforestation project in 1996, in which the government through the DENR awarded the Dumaliang family the rights to develop 30 percent of the forest, while conserving 70 percent of the area. The project involved restoring 400 hectares of denuded forests.
No trees, no animals, and no flowers. That was what the Dumaliang family saw in Masungi before Ben Dumaliang, stepped in. It was Ben who started the massive and unprecedented reforestation and restoration project in the Masungi Georeserve. He had no idea his work would reap honors and awards two decades later.
Through the Masungi Georeserve Foundation, the site has ensured the survival of over 400 species of flora and fauna, protected 60-million-year-old limestone formations, planted 40,000 indigenous trees, and employed over 100 locals who are now helping protect this piece of paradise.
Many of the resident wildlife in Masungi are found nowhere else in the world, and are critically endangered.
But now more than ever, Masungi faces serious threats to its existence.
Two Masungi park rangers suffered gunshot wounds in July 2021 after returning to their stations from their nightly patrol. An owner of an illegal swimming pool resort that was expanding into the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape was identified as the main suspect.
In 2021, Global Witness reported that the Philippines was the third most dangerous country in the world for environmental defenders, with 26 murdered in 2020 alone. Almost 30 percent of the attacks were said to be related to resource exploitation (logging, mining, and large-scale agribusiness), and hydroelectric dams, and other infrastructure.
Below are some vanishing species of plants and animals that are still thriving in Masungi Georeserve.
A Philippine Catmon and a Philippine Carpenter Bee in Masungi Georeserve
North Luzon Cloud Rat
Indigo-banded Philippine Kingfishers
Older Than Dinosaurs: Cycas riuminiana